Southern Miss clinches division with win over Louisiana Tech

Published 12:40 am Sunday, November 29, 2015

RUSTON, La. (AP) — Nick Mullens threw three touchdown passes and Ito Smith ran for three scores and Southern Mississippi rolled to a 58-24 victory over Louisiana Tech on Saturday to clinch the Conference USA West Division title. This was the 47th time the two schools have met and the Golden Eagles lead the series at 32 wins.

Southern Miss (9-3, 7-1) has won six straight games, and has scored 50-plus points for a program-best fifth time. The Golden Eagles have earned their third division title in school history, previously winning in 2011 and 2006.

Mullens was 24 of 37 for 386 yards passing with scoring strikes of 1, 7, and 22 yards to three different receivers, which gives him 35 for the year. He has now thrown a touchdown pass in 14 consecutive games and has recorded at least two touchdown passes 10 times this season.

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Mullens also has 13 games of 300 passing yards and has done it nine times this season.

Smith had touchdown runs of 57, 17, and 11 yards on consecutive drives in the fourth quarter, all on first down plays. He finished with 169 yards on 22 carries. Smith’s 57-yarder in the fourth quarter gave the Golden Eagles its 11th touchdown of at least 50 yards.

Devonta Foster had a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown for the Golden Eagles. And Michael Thomas had seven catches for 162 yards. Thomas caught seven passes for 162 yards and was the receiver of one of Mullens’ touchdown passes.

Jeff Driskel was 27 of 44 for 355 yards passing with three touchdowns, but he threw three interceptions for Louisiana Tech (8-4, 6-2).

The Bulldogs had two receivers go for more than 100 rushing yards. Trent Taylor caught 11 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown while Paul Turner led the team with 112 yards.

Southern Miss held the Bulldogs to negative two rushing yards, which was the first time it held an opponent to under 50 yards since holding Memphis to seven yards in 2011.